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The International Rescue Committee says the global community has failed Sudan

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: It's been over a year since war erupted in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum. The power struggle between the Sudanese Armed Forces, or SAF, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, or RSF, has now engulfed the rest of the country with concerns of genocide in Darfur again. Around 12 million people have been forced to flee their homes, the majority internally displaced. Schools have been closed for more than a year, and aid agencies warn of the threat of famine in many parts of the country. The International Rescue Committee put Sudan at the top of their emergency watch list for 2024. And today, they release a report that says the international community has failed Sudan. Eatizaz Yousif is the country director for the IRC, and she is with me now. Good morning.

EATIZAZ YOUSIF: Good morning, and thank you, Leila, for having me.

FADEL: Thank you for being here. I want to start with just how dire the situation is in Sudan right now.

YOUSIF: Almost half of the country in their form of humanitarian need. We're talking about 18 million of people, 3 million at the brink of famine.

FADEL: Three million on the brink of famine?

YOUSIF: Yes.

FADEL: Now, you - have you been in and out of Khartoum since the war began?

YOUSIF: So, I've been displaced out of Khartoum in April last year after the conflict started because I have an elderly mom. And when I closed my house, last time, I never thought that it will take that long. I watch a lot of crisis. I'm overseeing a lot of displacement. But when it personally happened to you, you cannot really making what the situation and how the feeling that you have. In less than 1 hour or 2 hours, you feel is being really just ripped out of your root. Since April, I almost slept in 50 beds. I don't have a home, I don't have a room, and I'm ahead of organization. I guess I'm being really supported. But just replicate that on the normal Sudanese and it really, we believe as Sudanese, we are so resilient. But I guess we get to that brick point of that resilient, and we just want the war to stop.

FADEL: Is your house still standing in Khartoum?

YOUSIF: No, the majority of the houses is completely been looted and completely been destroyed. When we go back home, we find the walls, and maybe windows and doors, that's what we are hoping to have if we are going back.

FADEL: Do still have the key to your house?

YOUSIF: I have the key in my laptop bag, and I make a yoke, and I told them, I'm carrying this key for one year and I don't know when I will put it back in the door, but I couldn't able to really get rid of it or move it away. It's really sad, Leila.

FADEL: Why do you think it's gotten so little of the world's attention? You talk about this war that's been going on for over a year, the most displaced people in the world. Your report talks about 220,000 children possibly starving in the months ahead - people already starving every day.

YOUSIF: I guess we don't have a lot of influence. I guess our geographical location is not having a huge importance like Palestine or Syria or even Ukraine. Sudan crisis has been even before us, and we never get that media attention. I don't want to compare between crisis and crisis, but I guess Sudan - it's really required to be at the heart of diplomacy effort and to get the attention it required.

FADEL: You said in your report, if nothing changes, there will be a catastrophe at historic scales. What would that look like?

YOUSIF: Because in the near future, there's now 3 million people die from hunger. That is the initial numbers. And the number of people underreported that is being really silently dying is unbelievable because there's a failure in the health system. There is a huge issue with the food security in Sudan, and we used to be the basket of that region.

FADEL: What does the world need to do? I mean, when you talk about intervention to prevent an even more catastrophic humanitarian disaster, what does that look like?

YOUSIF: So I guess the world is really putting international pressure on the conflicting party, at least to stop the fighting and then increase the funding for Sudan and lifting the administrative impediment and axis issues because both party - they are really weaponize the aid.

FADEL: They've weaponized the aid?

YOUSIF: Yes. Like, if you are restricting the movement of the humanitarian supplies, if you are systematically targeting health facility and hospitals. Then definitely you are really obstructing the axis for aid to get to the needy people.

FADEL: Eatizaz Yousif is the country director for the IRC. Thank you so much for your time.

YOUSIF: Thank you, Leila. Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.